When the little mischievous punk three-piece known as Surf Green announced their hiatus in 2019, it felt like the end of an era. The departure from the scene of the loveable trio – Martin, Iwan, and Dave – who gave us a string of playful releases that toyed with noisy pop punk and showed incredible musicianship, was truly a sad time. Their live shows were urgent displays of youthful creativity and friendship, shot through with genuine laughs and a lot of spilled beers.
The pause, though, was pregnant. Their first release under the name REASY AJARRO is a three-track sucker punch called “Stop and Stare”. Gone are the speedy hits of chunky power chords. What we have here is a starkly mature and genuinely emotional work.
“Forgotten Son” is a barrage of deft drumming, forlorn melody, math-y, discordant stabs of guitar and slinky bass work. It’s three minutes and thirty seconds that goes by in a heartbeat, a whirlwind of early Reuben riffs and disarming lyrics. “Above” gives us a heartfelt vocal performance with stadium-ready guitars the size of skyscrapers and an inescapable sentiment.
Remiss as it may be to spend a review comparing a band to their influences, it’s fascinating to listen through and pick out the things you can tell resonate with the guys here – the direct and charming lyrics of Weezer, or Deftones’ constant pull between light and dark.
Probably the strongest song of the bunch, although it’s hard to place any of these songs above the others, is “Separation”. Seriously catchy and intense, it’s like Linkin Park got drunk in the centre of Belfast and invaded the nearest recording studio for a while. Those harsh throughout are incredible, searing and full of venom, giving the track so much bite and flair. I wish it was twice as long. Each of these three tracks has a distinct feel – and they set a new, impossibly high standard for the heavy side of the Northern Irish scene.
What hits you most about Stop and Stare is its emotional intensity. There’s a clear dedication to craft apparent in each of these three tracks that just shines through and puts a smile on your face (if you can find the time to stop head banging and table drumming to all those lovely little mid-song shifts). Worth a mention too is the fun music video for “Separation”. While the three guys in Reasy are more likely to hug you than start a street fight, the video might make you think twice about that.